Larry Wilmore Has No Regrets Over WHCA Dinner Speech: "I Approached It as a Roast"

Andrew Hetherington
Larry Wilmore said he has no regrets concerning his controversial hosting performance at the recent White House correspondents’ dinner.

"I know that I lost the room early — that was apparent."

Larry Wilmore is not looking back with concern at his controversial performance at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

In an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday, the Comedy Central host said he approached the evening as "a roast," and with the purpose of expressing "how meaningful the president’s term was to me as an African American and to African Americans like me."

The Nightly Show host made waves after calling the event “Negro night" and signing off by telling Obama: "if I’m going to keep it one hundred: Yo, Barry, you did it, my n—a.” It was Obama's final correspondents' dinner. 

"I kept it 1,000 at the dinner. Content-wise, absolutely. I felt like those were the things I wanted to say," he told the Post. "From a pure comedic point of view, I know that I lost the room early — that was apparent, and I knew I was not going to be able to bring them back, so I just tried to have fun and enjoy it."

His performance, which was criticized as underwhelming, polarized the room, he said, which lead to Wilmore editing material as he went along, gauging reaction to certain jokes, he added. 

"It just felt the tone of some of them was even harsher than what I was already doing and I said to myself, 'I don’t want to get to the point where they are going to say ‘Okay, that’s enough. Let’s go, Larry. . . . ' I’m sorry, Mr. President'," he said. "I knew I was teetering on the taste line, and I knew I was probably teetering on the wrong side of the taste line, but I was okay with that."

Wilmore said it is time to move onward. No regrets.

"It’s hard to say anything except it was quite an experience," he said. "Should I be waiting to be asked back again?"